Belfast Telegraph

SDLP calls for Devenny death files to be released - man was beaten unconscious alongside daughter by RUC

Cathy Healey with a picture of her dad Sammy Devenny
Cathy Healey with a picture of her dad Sammy Devenny

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has called for the disclosure of files relating to the death of a Londonderry man who died of a heart attack after being beaten by the RUC.

Sammy Devenny was beaten unconscious alongside his daughter by baton-wielding police officers at their William Street home in the Bogside on April 19, 1969.

Mr Devenny (43), a father-of-nine, had a heart attack four days after the incident and died three months later.

He is regarded by many as the first victim of Northern Ireland's Troubles.

Mr Eastwood said the Devenny family should not have to wait fifty years after an inquiry was conducted to access the information it holds.

The Foyle MLA said: “The Devenny family have been waiting for almost fifty years for access to an inquiry report into Samuel’s death following an attack by RUC officers. And even now, there’s no guarantee that further obstacles won’t be placed in their path as the date on which the report could be disclosed approaches.

“The way this family has been treated is grossly insensitive and unfair but sadly it’s a common theme as the apparatus of the British State continues to resist disclosure of documents which could provide a degree of truth for victims."

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SDLP leader Colum Eastwood

Mr Eastwood said the families of all victims deserve access to "truth, justice and accountability" and called for institutional attempts to "deny or frustrate" access to information to end.

“No further barriers should face the Devenny family in their campaign for truth. These documents should be disclosed at the earliest possible opportunity," he added.

Mr Devenny's daughter, Cathy Healey (66), speaking ahead of the 50th anniversary of his death, told the Belfast Telegraph her family's life was "destroyed" by the incident.

Cathy was 16 at the time and watched the officers beat her father before turning their batons on her.

She told the Belfast Telegraph that her family just wants to hear the truth about why their home was targeted.

"We will never get justice. I do not forgive the men who did this. And I don't think I ever could. It was unnecessary," she said.

"All we want is the truth. I want them to admit what they did and why they did it. They destroyed our lives."

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